nov 22/RUN

5.4 miles
ford loop
31 degrees

Brrr, at least for the first mile. Had to put up my hood and breathe deeply. Ran through the neighborhood on my way to the lake street bridge instead of by the Welcoming Oaks. Such beautiful light this morning, bright warm sun. Saw my shadow several times. She kept wandering down in the ravine or right by the edge. I took a picture of her when I stopped at the Monument, which is a Civil War monument and not a WWI one (which is what Scott thought):

My view from the overlook at the civil war monument. From back to front: sky, lake street bridge, west river bluff, river, bare tree branches, cliff, a shadow of me taking this picture, dirt
view of my shadow/river/bridge / 22 nov 2023

10 Things

  1. water dripping at shadow falls — not quite rushing or gushing, but close
  2. little white caps on the water from the wind
  3. a bird calling out repeatedly, sounding like a car alarm — must have been a cardinal, right?
  4. even less leaves on the trees than last week, although there are still stretches of bright green
  5. one runner passing me slowly, gradually
  6. another running zooming past me up the hill
  7. the satisfying feeling of sandy grit crunching under my feet as I ran on the dirt rail next to the paved path
  8. on the St. Paul side most of the benches have plaques embedded in the concrete, none of them do on the Minneapolis side
  9. spotting a parked car, glowing in the sun on the west side of the river as I ran on the east side
  10. noisy, darting squirrels everywhere

before the run

Today I’m revising and expanding my part of the Haunts poem about the Regulars, the people (both alive and dead) that are regularly at the gorge. I’d like to add something about the “in memory of” plaques along the trail, mostly embedded in the concrete near benches. So I’m giving myself a task: take pictures of more of these plaques to write about in my 3/2 form. Will I do it? Will I be willing to stop and take these pictures? How many of them can I get?

Speaking of plaques, I was curious about how to get one and how much they cost. Here’s the link for Minneapolis: Tributes and Memorials

To get a bench plaque, fill out the interest form on the site. It’s $5000 for a new bench for 10 years, $2500 for a refurbished bench for 10 years. Only 10 years.

Here’s St Paul’s information. Same 10 year deal, although you can add 10 year increments for an additional $1500 at any time. Also: It’s $5000 for a new bench/10 years at St. Paul Parks, except along the Mississippi River Parkway. Those are $10000. That seems like a lot — is it?

during the run

I did it! Starting by the monument, I stopped at every bench and took a picture of the plaque next to it. Lots of stopping, but it was fun! 12 images in total. I didn’t read any of the inscriptions, just stopped, took out my phone, clicked, put my phone back in my pocket, then started running again. I would imagine that some of the people I encountered were wondering what I was doing. I kind of wish one of them would have asked so I could say something like, “I’m working on a poem about the gorge and I’m gathering memorials to include in it.”

after the run

Now, back at my desk, I’m looking through the images. Almost all of them are legible! So far, there’s only one I can’t read and that’s because I made it a 4 second video instead of a photo. Oops. Oh–and it’s always because it’s in a cursive font that’s very hard to read.

It’s moving to read these memorials, many of them about people who died too young. I’m particularly struck by one that says, “Just a kid growing up!” — Tony Basta, 12/1/99

A plaque embedded in concrete. It reads: "Just a kid growing up!" Tony Basta, 12/1/99
Memorial plaque along the Mississippi River Bluff in St. Paul

I had no idea what this meant, so I looked it up. On April 26, 2000, while riding his bike along the Mississippi River (near Randolph) around 10 pm, 17 year old Tony Basta was shot and killed by 3 teenagers who wanted to shoot a random person “just to scare them.” Basta’s parents had the plaque made; the quote is from Tony in his yearbook. Wow. So heartbreaking and haunting — the details in this article (Tony Basta’s Murder 10 Years Ago) about the bystander who heard the shot and thought it was fireworks, his father who owns The Italian Pie Shoppe, the girl who overheard the killers telling the story at a party and reported them, earning a reward that paid for her college, the killer who expresses daily regret.

Will any of this make it into my poem? Possibly? Probably? Who knows? I’m not sure what will come of these accounts, but it feels meaningful to bear witness to the lives of the people on these plaques today.

As I was finishing up my run, my thoughts wandered. I thought about having one of these plaques for when I’m dead and how I’d want poetry on it. Then I thought, why wait until then and why put it on a plaque? What about leaving some poetry around the gorge now? Then I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to leave some lines from my haunts poem — some parts of my repeating refrain that includes, a girl runs and ghost and gorge? And now I’m thinking that I want to do some sort of unofficial public installation of this poem around the gorge. It could be lines left on the path or tied to a tree, or it could be QR codes with links to the text and a recording of me reading it. YES! I should research how others do public installations for inspiration.

nov 20/RUN

6.2 miles
franklin loop + extra*
40 degrees

*ran the regular franklin loop but when I reached the lake/marshall bridge I kept running up the hill on the east side, all the way to the bench at the bend on the bluff. I took a picture of a plaque, then turned around and ran back to the bridge and then over it.

A plaque near a bench. It reads: In Loving Memory of Jeffrey Peter Hanson. "Oh what I would say to you again" from Losing a Year
a plaque in the ground by a bench

I looked up the sentence/title and it’s a lyric from a song by the person remembered on the plaque, Jeff Hanson. It was on his second of three albums. He was found dead in his St. Paul apartment by his parents in 2009. According to Wikipedia the cause of death was “drug toxicity” — a mixture of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety pills with alcohol — and they couldn’t determine if it was accidental or self-inflicted. So sad.

One of the reasons I stopped to take a picture of the plaque was because I’m revising my Haunts poem and I gave myself the task of finding more of the plaques and then putting them into a section of the poem that follows “The Regulars.”

Overcast today, a pale gray. Another nice, relaxed run. Another beautiful morning by the gorge. Greeted Dave, the daily walker just a few minutes in. Admired the Welcoming Oaks and the tuning fork tree. No stones stacked on the ancient boulder. Chanted triple berries for a few miles. Felt good and strong and happy to be running a 10k.

10+ Things

  1. the river is higher — the water has spilled over into the floodplain on the spot below 31st
  2. jingle jingle jingle a dog collar making noise below me on the Winchell Trail
  3. clear open views everywhere to the other side — almost all the leaves are gone!
  4. one tree still full of leaves — the leaves were browned but so light they almost looked silver
  5. a few other trees on the east side still holding onto bright green leaves
  6. encountered several U of M students with backpacks walking over to campus
  7. a sign on the bridge — End the Occupation
  8. every street lamp I passed on the bridge had had their copper wire cut — some of them were also missing the door at the bottom that covers the wires, and one lamp had lost its entire top — it was just a stump
  9. the white sands beach was glowing white from across the river
  10. many of the benches I passed had recently been repaired — the three slats for the back had been replaced — I wondered: did the old boards have “in memory of” plaques, and do those not get replaced?
  11. on the bridge, looked up in the sky and stopped: 3 soaring birds, high in the sky — eagles? hawks? geese? I couldn’t tell

nov 18/RUN

4 miles
hidden falls to crosby farms and back
37 degrees

Just like yesterday, another beautiful morning! Sunny, calm, not too cold. Sharp shadows, cloudless blue sky. Today’s route started and ended at the Hidden Falls parking lot, right next to the sunlit river. So wonderful! Ran with Scott and talked about Amy Winehouse, NCAA cross country races, lurking shadows, and why there was a car driving on the no vehicle path — lost golden retriever. As we neared Crosby Falls, we ran over a root that was embedded in the path and looked like a snake. Very cool! Scott took a picture of it:

a cracked sidewalk with a tree root winding through it, looking like a snake
Scott’s picture of a root in the paved path / near Crosby Farms

10 Things

  1. chirping birds, shrieking squirrels
  2. shadows, 1: ours, sharp, beside us then in front of us
  3. shadows, 2: the trees, casting long lines across the paved path
  4. shadows, 3: the trees on the water, making the bright blue water look dark brown
  5. question pondered: what’s the difference between a shadow and a reflection — Scott’s answer: the position of the light
  6. a walker in a bright pink jacket
  7. the sandstone/limestone bluff — high and looming — on one side of us
  8. graffiti spray painted on a barricade in the parking lot, uh oh stinky
  9. smoke from a campfire on other side of a little lake near Crosby Farms
  10. running up a short, step hill on the tips of my toes and remembering when I tried (and failed) to bike up it a few years ago without shifting gears

nov 17/RUN

3.2 miles
trestle turn around
36 degrees

Yes! A near perfect morning for a run. Sunny, still, cool but not cold. Deep blue sky, sharp shadows. Relaxed hips, knees, shoulders. A moment to remember and return to when needed. So calm, happy, not anxious. Walking back after I was done, I heard a knock so I stopped and looked up to the top of a tree — a woodpecker! And I could see it! I watched for a few seconds then listened deeper: another chirping bird, leaves rustling underfoot, a leaf blower.

10 Things

  1. good morning Dave!
  2. the floodplain forest is bare and a beautiful, soothing brown
  3. with everything so bare and exposed because of the lack of leaves, I thought about how it all looks bigger (wider, more open) and smaller (no mystery, all out in the open) at the same time
  4. glancing down at white Minneapolis rowing club building, it looked like it was a shimmering mirage in the sun
  5. almost to the trestle — I could see it through the bare trees, stretching across the water. It looked so far away, even though I was almost there
  6. took the recently redone steps just north of the trestle down for a better view of the water — the river was such a deep, dark blue — but a dark blue that was still clearly blue and not black (which is what navy looks like to me)
  7. on those same steps: my shadow ahead of me — hi friend!
  8. another shadow: a runner approaching me from behind. I could hear her slowly gaining on me, then suddenly her shadow appeared, almost lurking behind me for a moment
  9. running on the sandy, gritty dirt just off the edge of the trail
  10. smelling breakfast — can’t remember what type of breakfast, just breakfast — wafting down from longfellow grill

As I was running on the dirt trail just next to the paved path, I had a thought about my haunts poem and the recent ones I’ve added about the trails. So far I have three — the dirt trail on the grassy boulevard, the official paved trail, and Winchell. I think I should add this one, and maybe more. I could sprinkle them throughout the poem, or just add that one in with the others, near the beginning?

I was planning to run a little longer and listen to a playlist for the second half, but a mile into my run I realized that I had forgotten my phone. That has happened maybe once or twice ever, in all of the years I’ve been running. Today, I didn’t care, but still didn’t want to run too long without it, especially since I hadn’t told Scott which way I was running.

nov 16/RUN

5.4 miles
ford loop
63 degrees
wind: 19mph

Another windy day. I had to hold onto my cap several times so it wouldn’t fly off. Running east on the lake street bridge, I put my hood so my cap wouldn’t fall off. Running west over the ford bridge, I took the cap off and held it in my hands. The wind made it difficult, more draining. Is that why my legs feel so sore?

10 Things

  1. ridges and white caps in the blue water, from the wind
  2. kids at the church daycare, at the far end of the fenced-in playground. Running by I could hear their tiny, sweet voices plotting something
  3. more filled benches than usual along the route, including one with a person sitting and a stroller behind it
  4. in the neighborhood: knocks on the roof — not a woodpecker, but roofers … or was it a woodpecker?
  5. running straight into the wind, wondering if would push me up against the railing (not quite)
  6. my shadow down in the ravine near shadow falls — lucky shadow, sheltered from the wind
  7. everywhere hazy — it might have been my vision, but I think it was dust stirred up by the wind. Yuck!
  8. running north, at the end, feeling the wind pushing me, but not in a helpful way
  9. the wind didn’t rush or roar, it just pushed and pulled
  10. a walker, walking in the middle of the path, blasting talk radio

I stopped on the double bridge to take a picture of the ravine and to put in my headphones:

My view from the bridge of some bare-branched trees. Everything mostly brown, with a few streaks of white (or gray?) peeking through. The white is the water, or is it the sky? Difficult to tell. Below the frame of this imagine (just out of the picture), is a branch with green leaves, swaying in the wind. Also out of the frame is a walker with a dog, walking by. I didn't notice them until they passed by and crossed my periphery.
a warm, windy November day / 16 nov 2023

today’s view out my window

It’s snowing leaves. Mostly they are drifting down slowly, one after the other. Sometimes at a distance, occasionally almost on my window screen. My neighbor’s yard is covered with them, a dead leaf carpet. Yesterday, as Scott and I cleared out our leaves we could see that the neighbor’s tree was still full of leaves. I wondered what would happen when the wind came back. Today I found out.

Also, encountered this interesting (and unsettling) article about the effects of climate crisis on Japanese poets who write haikus: Japan’s haiku poets lost for words as climate crisis disrupts seasons

nov 14/RUN

3 miles
under ford bridge and back
55 degrees
wind: 20mph

Almost too warm and definitely too windy. The wind doesn’t bother me like it used to, but this wind was tough. I ran straight into it heading south. One nice thing: it pushed me along in the second half. I wore shorts and by the end of my run I had taken off my sweatshirt and pushed up my short sleeves. Bare legs and bare arms in the middle of November. Strange and disorienting.

10 Wind Things

  1. leaf shards in my eyes
  2. holding onto my hat so it wouldn’t blow away
  3. being pushed to the edge of the trail
  4. a roar in my ears
  5. swirling leaves above me, below me, to the side of me
  6. squaring my shoulders, leaning in as the wind pushed me back
  7. a sudden gust from the side
  8. knocking my ankles together
  9. shaking, swaying trees
  10. more sizzle than howl

I didn’t hear any geese or notice what the wind was doing to the river. I might have seen my shadow; I almost remember. Encountered some other runners, bikers, and a roller skier.

I listened to the wind until I reached the ford bridge, then I stopped and put in an old playlist: “Landslide,” “Cheap Thrills,” “Sorry,” and “Love is a Battlefield.”

I came across Wendy Xu’s “Absolute Variations” today and I wanted to make note of the first few lines. What a way to start a poem!

The first time I read a line by John Ashbery
was in a little café in Massachusetts, from left to right
There it was written across my friend’s collarbone
It felt right to be there with someone
who would show me something like that
when we had never met before

I appreciate how she never explicitly names the Ashbery lines. I suppose if you know a lot of Ashbery’s poems, it’s obvious, but I don’t, so it isn’t to me. But that’s okay; it could be fun trying to find them, and it’s not necessary to know them to enjoy the poem. I think her refusal to be explicit here is an example of trusting the reader to figure it out. I like that.

nov 13/RUN

5 miles
veterans’ home loop
42 degrees

What a day! Sunny and calm and beautiful. I overdressed — didn’t need the gloves or the headband, maybe should’ve worn a lighter sweatshirt? Ran south to the falls, over the creek, behind John Steven’s house, over the creek again, to the grounds of the Veterans’ home, down the hill to the locks and dam no. 1, north on the river road, past the welcoming oaks, down through the tunnel of trees, across to Edmund, then done. Ran 5 miles without stopping. I didn’t even stop while taking off my sweatshirt and wrapping it around my waist. It would have been smart to stop for that, but I wanted to keep moving, so I did, and probably looked ridiculous.

10 Things

  1. chirp chirp chirp
  2. my ponytail swishing and hitting my shoulder
  3. my shadow — sharp and straight and solid
  4. a group of people — was it kids and a teacher, or all adults? I’m not sure — standng silently on the grass between Minnehaha Academy and Becketwood
  5. shimmering scattering glowing river water
  6. rushing gushing falls
  7. the fake bells from the light rail sounding like the beginning of an ABBA song (at least to me) — I thought about listening to an ABBA playlist on my run back, but I forgot
  8. running over the bridge that leads to the Veterans’ home, hearing the creek rushing way below me
  9. encountering a few walkers — a short woman, later a tall man — as I ran down the steep hill to locks and dam no. 1
  10. 4 stones stacked on the ancient boulder

As I ran down a hill into Minnehaha Park, I tried to remember the sun and the warmth and the bare ground, and thought about how this same path will be cold and snow-covered within a month.

Before my run, I thought about how before works in my Haunts poem and revisited a wonderful poem, “Transubstantiation,” that plays with befores and afters. I wanted to explore the idea of after while I ran — what comes before, what after? But I realized as I moved that I am most interested in playing around with the before, creating layers of befores that don’t follow a linear progression, but circle around unresolved. I held onto as many of my thought as I can, then recorded them into my phone once my run was done.

notes / 13 nov 2023

transcript: November 13, 2023. Just finished a 5 mile run and while I was running I was thinking about girl ghost and gorge and befores and how I’m not interested in doing afters, I’m interested in circling around these befores. Not in a linear way, but a circular way. I’ll do another one that is before there was gorge, there was girl. That one will be about me before I started paying attention, before I started running by the gorge, before this practice. Then there will be one that’s before there was girl, there was ghost. This one will involve more of my mom as a ghost. I’m interested in playing around with the befores and making it disorienting; there’s no real origin point. It’s circular and repeats itself, phrases repeat themselves.

repetition: chiasmus and chanting

Thinking more about the circularity of my befores and the chant-like repetition of girl ghost gorge / ghost girl gorge / gorge ghost girl. Before my run, during my morning ritual of coffee and poetry, I encountered Jane Huffman’s poem, “The Rest” and her discussion/explanation of it in, “Backwashes and Eddies: Jane Huffman on “The Rest”“. She mentions the chiasmus, which I had to look up to remember what it meant:

Repetition of any group of verse elements (including rhyme and grammatical structure) in reverse order, such as the rhyme scheme ABBA. Examples can be found in Biblical scripture (“But many that are first / Shall be last, / And many that are last / Shall be first”; Matthew 19:30). See also John Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”).

glossary term, Poetry Foundation

Here’s how Huffman describes her use of it in “The Rest”:

Cut red / flowers hung in pink water.
                Cut pink flowers hung in red water.
                Cut red water hung in pink flowers.
                Cut pink water hung in red flowers.

The poem operates in reversals, in mirror images, in symmetries: “Cut [pink or red] [flowers or water] hung in [pink or red] [flowers or water].”

About the water and flowers, Huffman also says this:

Indeed, “The Rest” refuses to move on. It cannot. It is obsessive, recalibrating the relationship between “flowers” and “water” until its options are exhausted. Exhaustion is a teleology of sickness. One cough anticipates the next.

“The Rest” is about her frequent bouts with bronchitis and Huffman uses repetion, especially the chiasmus, for several reasons:

  1. the bilateral symmetry of her lungs — inhale/exhale left lung/right lung
  2. stagnation / the stasis of the bedridden body / back and forth / refusing to move on (the backwashes and eddies)
  3. seeks to capture the banality of the body — daily routine
  4. imperfect — not exactly the same, repetition with variation

poetic forms that use repetition in this way: villanelle, ghazal, duplex, pantoum

Huffman argues that her repetition of the flowers and the water give the poem its emotional thrust. I’m not sure what I want to do with these ideas, but I can feel them informing my choices about how to use repetition in this poem. One idea: maybe my 3/2 form could involve inverted repetition at some points?

Now moving on to chants, after a quick search, I found this essay: Learning the Chant Poem.

repetition: for meaning, memory, magic, music
to only repeat is boring
the best chant poems are expansive
repetition is important, but so is chaos/wildness

One key: it’s okay to use some nonsense words

an hour, or so, later: I’m returning to this entry because I want to make note of how Huffman’s poem has influenced/inspired me. In particular, I was thinking about her formula and the variations she created to play with the repetition, unsettling it and giving it movement and an emotional punch:

Cut [pink or red] [flowers or water] hung in [pink or red] [flowers or water].

After a few minutes of playing around with the ideas, my own formula emerged:

Before [girl, ghost, or gorge], [girl, ghost, or gorge]: or .
[2 beat word — concise and expansive].

Here’s one that I came up with the I’ll put right before the section of the poem about wanting to run with my mom:

Before girl, ghost.
Before ghost, girl:

Ooo, I like this! I hope it’s an idea that sticks.

nov 11/RUN

5.25 miles
fort snelling loop*
36 degrees
snow flurries

*a new loop! Started at the Hidden Falls parking lot in St. Paul and ran south to some steps just before the confluence. Over a bridge to Fort Snelling. Through Fort Snelling, Coldwater Springs, the Minnehaha dog park, the Veterans’ Home. Over the ford bridge and back to the river trail.

A wonderful run with Scott! A new loop to add into the mix. From our house, this loop is about 7.5-8 miles. Not too bad. So many wonderful views of the rivers — Mississippi and Minnesota. Such variety in surfaces and landscapes! Asphalt, concrete, crushed limestone, grass, dirt — soft and hard, dead leaves. Over bridges, above ravines, beside old military barracks and frequently travelled highways, through beloved parks, around disc golf courses. Under trees, next to freaky looking bushes with no leaves but dark pinecones, through tall grass, up steep steps with special tracks for rolling bikes down.

Not too long after this run, we drove down to St. Peter to hear FWA’s fall concert. I didn’t have time to finish and post this entry. I’m finishing it on Sunday morning. Can I remember 10 things from yesterday’s run?

10 Things

  1. the river (mississippi) stretching north — a clear, unobstructed view from above — this stretch near hidden falls in st. paul has the best views of the river
  2. so many glowing green leaves on the trees
  3. Scott ranting about Elon Musk and his latest attempts to destroy electric cars
  4. the strange (and a little irritating) visual effect of running next to a tall railing as the light pulsed through the slats — a constant flash flash flash flash
  5. running right by the barracks at Fort Snelling and feeling the misery of it — the cold quarters, especially in the winter, and this site as concentration camp, killing so many Dakota people in the winter of 1862
  6. the pleasing slide and crunch of the crushed limestone on this stretch of the trail
  7. a mix of surfaces: a few steps of limestone, then a flat, hard surface with a map printed on it
  8. running through the Ft. Snelling parking lot, then over to a trail next to Highway 55 — a tall wall then the highway on one side, strange bushes with ugly and ominous-looking pinecones on the other
  9. cutting through a narrow dirt trail near coldwater springs — running up and down as the path gently rose and fell over small hills
  10. a row of American flags lining the road right by the Veterans’ home — it’s Veterans’ Day

I did it! I probably could have listed another 10 things. This route was memorable.

nov 10/RUN

5.1 miles
franklin loop
37 degrees

More excellent November weather! A solid, relaxed, non-stop (except for walking up the bridge steps) run. Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker and, later, another friendly runner — Hi! Admired the blue river and the occasional flash of red in the trees. Took deep breaths of fresh, cold air. Listened, without headphones, to the traffic and a chirping bird, rustling leaves and an alarm beeping somewhere.

10 Things

  1. a clear view of the forest floor from above
  2. so many green leaves still on the trees on the east side — light, glowing green
  3. somber (or reverent?) wind chimes
  4. smell 1: stinky, sour sewer gas, faint
  5. smell 2: either skunk or weed, probably weed
  6. smell 3: hot chocolate
  7. bright yellow headlights from cars, cutting through the trees
  8. some part of a machine scraping on a sidewalk somewhere in the distance
  9. a tree that I thought might be a person until I saw it in my periphery: a tree with one branch holding a hat at head-height
  10. a woman walker in bright orange pants

At the end of my run, I took a picture from the top of the hill, above the tunnel of trees, across from the ancient boulder:

Overlooking a forest that winds down to the river, which is a faint white -- or no color, just the absence of brown branches and yellowed leaves. Mostly bare branches and a brown ground covered in fallen leaves. In the lower right-hand corner a chain link fence stretches. This fence marks where the Winchell Trail used to go after coming up from the ravine. Now it's barely a trail, mostly hidden by leaves, no longer maintained. Just outside of the frame on the left, a green leaf flutters in the wind.
a view to the river near the 35th street parking lot / 10 november 2023

I love this poem by Donika Kelly, and I love what magic she can do with words!

I love you. I miss you. Please get out of my house. / Donika Kelly

Nothing today hasn’t happened before:
I woke alone, bundled the old dog
into his early winter coat, watered him,
fed him, left him to his cage for the day
closing just now. My eye drifts
to the buff belly of a hawk wheeling,
as they do, in a late fall light that melts
against the turning oak and smelts
its leaves bronze.
Before you left,
I bent to my task, fixed in my mind
the slopes and planes of your face;
fitted, in some essential geography,
your belly’s stretch and collapse
against my own, your scent familiar
as a thousand evenings.
Another time,
I might have dismissed as hunger
this cataloguing, this fitting, this fixing,
but today I crest the hill, secure in the company
of my longing. What binds us, stretches:
a tautness I’ve missed as a sapling,
supple, misses the wind.

I love all the work the title does to set up the poem, how she describes it as watering the dog (and not giving the dog water), and these verbs: cataloging/fitting/fixing. My favorite sentence, and the reason I wanted to post this poem today, is this:

My eye drifts
to the buff belly of a hawk wheeling,
as they do, in a late fall light that melts
against the turning oak and smelts
its leaves bronze.

A late fall light that melts against the tree and smelts it leaves bronze? Wow. I want tp remember that line. I’d also like to find an example of it out by the gorge on my run today (I’m writing this bit before my run), but there’s no autumn sunlight today, just gray gray gray. I wonder, what does gray to those leaves?

during the run: I hoped to think about this question of what gray does to the leaves, but I got distracted, or maybe, it didn’t do much, at least not today. Most of the leaves were gold or orangish-brown, no shimmering or sizzling, just soft and flat.

Instead of thinking about what gray does to the leaves, I was thinking about some lines I’d like to add to my Haunts poem:

A girl runs
four blocks
to the gorge.
She’s all
muscle bone
and breath,
foot strikes and
arm swings.
The river
and ghosts

transcript: During the run I was thinking about ghosts and girls and the gorge. And I was thinking that what I’m really trying to convey is that there’s a heaviness and a solidness and a there-ness that is both good and too heavy. So there’s a desire to lighten up. What I want to do is convey the heaviness, so maybe using the word, “heavy,” heavy foot strikes. Then I was thinking of Lizzy McAlpine and her song, “all my ghosts.” And then I was thinking about how all these ghosts aren’t primarily a bad thing, but there are a few ghosts I struggle with more than others. I think the ghost of cancer is haunting me the most right now.

the chorus from McAlpine’s “all my ghosts”:

And all my ghosts were with me
I know you felt them too
Watchin’ as I started to get dizzy
‘Cause I hate all of my habits
But I happen to love you
I hope that’s true

another version of my lines:

A girl runs.
She’s all
muscle bone
and breath,
heavy foot
falls and
swinging arms.
At the
river her
ghosts wait.

nov 8/RUN

5.5 miles
ford loop
43 degrees

Ah, November! Ran through the neighborhood, past the kids playing outside at the church daycare, past the house that has a giant Packer’s flag hanging from their fence, past the window of the business where I watch myself run and wonder if the people inside are watching me watch myself, over the lake street bridge to the east side of the river. On the bridge, I passed a couple holding hands. A mile later, I passed another hand-holding couple. An unusual sighting, and twice. Ran up the long hill to the Monument, then beside the river until I reached the ford bridge. Stopped to take a picture on the bridge, then ran the rest of the way back with Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo.

A view from the ford bridge, poorly framed. Not sure what color other people might see here, but to me it's all gray: light gray sky and river, broken up by chunks of dark gray trees. I like how the sky and the river look almost the same color to me.
taken from the ford bridge / 8 november 2023
My view of the river from the ford bridge. I stuck my phone above the railing, pointed and clicked quickly, afraid I might drop my phone into the river. For me, this image is fuzzy, almost furry, with soft greens and golds and grays. Most of the shot is of the past-their-prime trees on the shore of the Mississippi. All along the left edge curved around the trees is the light gray river which, at some point, turns into the sky. This image looks more like a painting than a photograph.
taken, with some trepidation, over the railing of the ford bridge / 8 november 2023

10 Things

  1. kids playing at the church daycare, several of them huddled at the fence, one of them (accidentally?) threw a ball over the side
  2. blue water, some waves, a few streaks or trails from something
  3. running above shadow falls, not sure if I was hearing it dripping or the wind through the trees
  4. running up the summit hill, a stretch of lit street lamps lining the path, the amber lights glowing softly
  5. noticing the gloom and the absence of my shadow as I ran around the ravine
  6. wondering if I would get to hear the St. Thomas bells as I ran close to campus (nope)
  7. chickadee dee dee
  8. turkeys! I’m not quite sure, but I think they were hanging out in the grass, just past the ford bridge, before you head down the hill to the locks and dam
  9. an unnaturally vibrant green on some of the leaves on the east side of the river — is this spring or late fall?
  10. an intense smell of cinnamon shortly before reaching the ford bridge — where was it coming from? someone’s gum? a bush?

before the run

Last night during Scott’s South High Community Jazz Band rehearsal, when I sit and listen and work on poetry, I returned to Susan Tichy’s North | Rock | Edge. Wow! This morning, before my run, I’m thinking about the lines I read and an interview Tichy did for Terrain.

There’s also a sensory excitement in a sea-rock-light-wind-bird-flower-seal-seep-peat-rain-salt—oh look, there’s a whale!—environment that subsumes attention to any one thing into the press of the whole.

I love how she describes the environment and her idea of attention to the whole, not just to any one thing.

Rock blurs the categories of time and space by making time visible and place temporal. A poem uses both rest and motion to create a form, which can be seen and must be heard—as the Susan Howe epigraph says, fleeting and fixed. These poems, like many in Avalanche Path, have a surface texture of fragmentation, abrupt change, and brokenness metamorphized into a new whole, voiced in present time, human time. Nothing is still; nothing is uniform.

And here’s a wonderful bit from the first part of Tichy’s poem, 60 North|Arriving, Stand Still:

& here wind

elevates to a theory

of time : to not miss a single

wave’s decay, a verse

of coast becoming dearth

of certainty, to undefine

the edge as noun, dissolving

in the not unyielding mouth

of cliff : verse/reverse

from the root of turn :

wind-wave & swell

compounded to a single

force, broken

by the thing it breaks—

In the next section she offers this line, what place is not. The gorge as what place is not, or where place one was?

during the run

I think Tichy’s poem influenced my thoughts indirectly as I ran. I was thinking about a part of my Haunts poem I’m working on, particularly about how I am sometimes a girl, sometimes a ghost, and sometimes a gorge. Am I the gorge, I wondered as I started running. And as I ran over the lake street bridge I came up with an answer: yes. Later, when I reached to ford bridge, I stopped running to record some thoughts:

I am the gorge because the gorge is the remains, what is left behind, what continues to exist even as ground erodes, self erodes, vision erodes. The gorge, constantly shifting, but always there. The gorge is the eroded. Is the ghost the verb, the eroding? … I am also the gorge because I’m constantly leaving part of myself here and becoming this place and not just moving through the place, becoming the place.